By Justice Mingle, a Journalist
Ghanaians are marking today as a statutory public holiday in honor of the country’s first President, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. The day was chosen because it is Dr. Nkrumah’s birthday. It was in the past marked as Founders day, but the current government shifted Founders Day to August 4, since it is believed the country’s march towards independence started from August 4. Dr. Nkrumah in fact deserves the honor done to him, because, apart from leading Ghana together with other compatriots to independence from colonial rule on 6th March, 1957, he served as the country’s first Prime Minister and subsequently President after Ghana attained Republican status.
Nkrumah’s personality transcended Ghana, as after liberating Ghana from the shackles of colonialism, he sought to bring the entire African continent together. To him, the independence of Ghana was meaningless, unless it is linked with the total liberation of the African continent. To concretize these thoughts, he sponsored the education of some African liberation fighters in Universities in Ghana. No wonder, most African countries attained Independence around the 1960s recognized as the decade of decolonization.
Nkrumah’s vision of truly Independent African nations collaborating together to maximize their resources and resist exploitation by imperial and colonial powers inspired many liberation movements across the continent. Nkrumah was highly revered as a visionary leader, who would have made Ghana a first World country if he had remained in power for long. He was unfortunately overthrown in the coup d’état of 1966, by forces supported by the CIA.
After his overthrow in 1966, Nkrumah went into exile in Conakry, Guinea at the request of President Ahmed Sekou Toure, who made him honorary co-President of the country. Projects initiated by Dr. Nkrumah, which endeared him to the hearts of the people included the Tema Harbour, Accra-Tema-motorway, and the Akosombo Dam which intended the volta lake. The Tema port for example handles over six million tonnes of goods each year, in exchange goods for land-locked countries like Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali. Other landmark projects by Dr. Nkrumah are the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and University of Cape Coast among others. It is significant that Nkrumah’s birthday coincides with International Day of Peace, being commemorated by the UN.
This is because Nkrumah’s statue of Nkrumah in the world was a peacemaker. He led a mission to Hanoi to find a peaceful solution to the Vietnam war. He had been invited by that country’s leader, Ho Chi Mihn and he had the assurance of the American government that they would do nothing to compromise his safety during the trip. Sadly, the fact that he was overthrown before he could complete his mission leaves most people wondering why America, which was complicit in his removal, approved the trip.
Many unfortunate incidents happened after Nkrumah’s overthrow, as his party, the CPP was proscribed and books he wrote were burnt to ashes. Property of his Young Pioneers Movement was equally burnt. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since Nkrumah died after his overthrow, but here is a single individual who has won several awards both in Africa and globally.
He was the winner of the Lenin Peace Prize from the Soviet Union. Nkrumah was named African man of the millennium by the African Union, the BBC and for which he was a founding member.
His accolades were numerous, but suffice it to say, truly Nkrumah never dies. He is a household name on the lips of many. People today weigh his credentials against other Presidents that followed his reign and wished he had remained in power. Nkrumah’s achievements are immeasurable and on the occasion of his birthday, we say Ayekoo Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, though you are gone to your maker, you are still in our hearts and our memory.